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Wyoming tribe declares state of emergency over meth use

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RIVERTON, Wyo. (AP) - Tribal leaders in Wyoming have declared a state of emergency over the use of methamphetamine amid fears increasing drug use could threaten the tribe and its younger generations.

The state of emergency declaration by the Northern Arapaho Tribe of Wyoming has called for the tribe to establish a task force that would recommend ways to combat meth use and distribution, the Casper Star-Tribune reported.

Better coordination is needed to stop a problem that affects those struggling with addition and their families and is overwhelming tribal department budgets and employees, leaders said.

The task force would look at factors causing the crisis on the reservation, resources needed to address the problem, recommendations on how to fight the crisis and measurable goals and time frames for the tribe to work toward and gauge progress in addressing the usage of meth on the reservation.

The Northern Arapaho Business Council unanimously approved Wednesday the resolution to locate and use all available resources to prioritize efforts. Resolutions and next steps were discussed Thursday.

"The distribution and use of methamphetamines, specifically, on the Reservation is having a devastating impact on the Arapaho people," the resolution said. "Methamphetamine usage on the Reservation and its resultant harms on the Arapaho people has reached a crisis level and threatens to permanently damage the well-being of the tribe."

There have been an increasing number of tribal members struggling with meth addiction, and children entering family services or being raised by other family members or foster parents because of drug use, tribal court officials said. Meth and drug use can also be attributed to homicides and disappearance cases in the tribe, officials said.

"This drug has eradicated our culture, our beliefs, our values," council member Clarinda Calling Thunder said.

Other solutions were also discussed, including conducting drug tests, banishing those involved in the meth trade from the tribe and reservation and enacting changes in tribal law and order codes.

"We can no longer sit by and watch our family structures just be destroyed," council member Stephen Fast Horse said.

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